Texas enacts new surprise medical billing law - FOX34 Lubbock

Texas enacts new surprise medical billing law

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

Going to the hospital can be pricey, especially when health care providers fail to let patients know which services are covered by insurance. A new law in effect this year intends to protect patients from surprise medical bills. 

"The number one bankruptcy reasoning in the country is medical billing," Senator Charles Perry said. 

Insurers and health care providers must now leave patients out of billing disputes and negotiate prices themselves. Senator Perry advocated for the bill saying patients should know what they're being charged for. 

"We're trying to push medical professionals to come around to actually being more transparent on how they deal with patient billing," he said. 

The law aims to get rid of balance billing. Balance billing is when insurers decline to pay full price for health services charged by an out of network doctor. The doctor could then bill the patient for the remaining balance. 

Insurance agent Ron Hettler warns many times after patients see an out of network doctor they won't get the bill until months later. He added to double check and make sure what and what is being covered by your insurance provider. 

"If you go into an office, and you might be going into a building that's in network, the actual facility, but the doctor you see that's the emergency room physician may not be in network," he said. 

Senator Perry said this law is a giant leap for the state and could pave a new path for health care costs nationwide. 

"The federal government has now taken lead in trying to come up with a national policy to address balance billing," he said. 

The law took effect Jan. 1 and applies to Texans with state-regulated health plans. Instead of receiving a bill it will be directly sent to insurance providers for negotiation.

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